Pesos-only restaurants are for Cubans. Food availability tends to be hit or miss and the cuisine undistinguished at best. Many restaurants offer an oferta especial (special offer), usually a set meal of the day. Some sell cajitas, bargain-priced boxed take-out meals for a few pesos.
State-run merenderos and private roadside snack stalls—the staple for local dining—display their meager offerings in glass cases. A signboard indicates what’s available, with items noted on strips that can be removed as particular items sell out. These stalls are an incredibly cheap way of appeasing your stomach with snacks. The “$” sign at peso eateries refers to Cuban pesos, not U.S. dollars.
The staple of street stalls is basic pizzeta (pizza), usually five pesos per slice. Pizzas are dismal by North American standards—usually a bland doughy base covered with a thin layer of tomato paste and a smattering of cheese and ham. Other staples are fatty pork bocaditos, pan con queso (basic but tasty cheese sandwich), fritura de maíz (corn fritters), and pay de coco (coco flan).
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition